Monmouthshire trading standards officers have sent a warning about a scam involving pets after a local resident received an unsolicited email offering free pedigree kittens. The email incorporated a photograph of two cute kitties. She replied to take advantage of the offer and was told to pay a £90 delivery charge sent via Western Union.
Many scammers are advertising animals for sale on auction sites or in local newspapers while some have created fake websites. There are, of course, no animals and the pictures are stolen from elsewhere online. Trading standards officers advise taking extra care when responding to this type of advert.
Pet scams such as these are on the rise. Invariably fees are requested, paid via Western Union or Moneygram.
County Councillor Phil Murphy, cabinet member for trading standards commented: “Always be aware of something that looks to good to be true - it usually is”.
To avoid becoming a victim, use common sense and follow these tips:
- Always insist on a formal contract. The document should detail the method of transportation, timeframe, airline of carriage, and all associated costs. A health certificate should also be provided.
- Check references. If the seller indicates that a specific company will handle the shipping, get complete details for the shipping company and check them out.
- Check affiliations. In order to convey authenticity, a scammer may claim to be a member of the Independent Pet and Animal Transportation Association IPATA. If this is the case, simply look up the company name in the IPATA member directory (visit www.ipata.com and click on "Find a Pet Shipper") to verify if this is true.
- Check the phone number. Insist that you get a phone number from the seller, then test the number to make sure a real person answers, even if it's a long distance international call.
If you think you have been a victim of this type of fraud please contact Consumer Direct by calling 08454 040506 or visit www.consumerdirect.gov.uk.